365 Sampler Catch Up

30 03 2016

Once again, I let myself get behind on the 365 Challenge Quilt Sampler blocks. By almost a month.

I really need to not do that again.

I spent this weekend catching up on twenty-four blocks. Tonight, I re-made one and did the block for the day.

365 Catch Up

65. North Wind, 66. Flower Basket, 67. Spool And Bobbin, 68. Art Square, 69. Spinner,
70. March Basket, 71. Pinwheel Star, 72. Attic Window, 73. Diversion Quilt, 74. Shadow Box, 75. Lattice  Square, 76. Lucky Clover, 77. Mosaic, 78. Sarah’s Favorite, 79. Autumn Flurries, 80. Log Cabin, 81. Courthouse Steps, 82. Pineapple Plant, 83. Snails Trail,
84. Crown Of Thorns, 85. Crosses And Losses, 86. Easter Morning, 87. Twist,
88. Friendship Star, 89. Eccentric Star, 03.  Bonus: Easter Lily

I have to admit, I decided not to traditionally piece quite a few of this particular batch of blocks, like Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps, Pineapple Plant, and Pinwheel Star. I felt like I’d end up with more accurate results, and it took the headache out of them for me.

I will say I’d really like to not have to any blocks with miters in them for a while. And I still hate basket blocks with a fiery burning passion. I’m also very glad that we should be getting to do 6″ blocks with more regularity.

So, having made all those blocks, I was compelled to put them all together, just to get an idea of where I’m heading.

Lots of Blocks

When it comes time to assemble the 3″ blocks into their inner border, I will have to make sure to scatter those pops of color. I will also possibly need to re-make more blocks, in order to add more color. So far, though, the 3″ blocks I have now should work well.

Oh, and I cut 1.75 yards from stash, to supplement the dwindling supply of black and grey scrap I have. These blocks would have probably used up quite a bit more yardage, if I hadn’t wanted to work from scraps as much as possible.





Fibs & Fables Fabric

5 01 2016

Not all that long ago, I won a gift certificate to fatquartershop.com. I used it towards a half yard bundle of Fibs and Fable by Anna Maria Horner.

Fibs & Fables Bundle

Being that I’m an impatient type of person, I wasn’t content to let it sit in my stash for very long, so on the last day of 2015, I started starching, pressing, and cutting.

A couple of evenings ago, I was able to start piecing, and I am so very, very glad that I have converted to starching my fabrics:

A Start

When choosing which fabrics to cut at what size, I decided I wanted to preserve the integrity of the large scale prints in the collection. As I piece, I’m attempting to keep them spaced across the quilt, and to disperse the color groups.

So far, so good, even if piecing is slowed by my running between the machine and the design wall.





Focused

26 11 2014

I often irk my husband, with my ability to ‘hyper-focus’. I will work on one project, play one video game, or read one book with complete attention until I’m ready to step back. This most recent scrap project has been like that for me.

Of course, first I had to spend about a week on starching, ironing and cutting the scraps into usable pieces:

So Many Scraps

That’s a LOT of 5″ and 2.5″ squares. I’ve over-filled a shoebox sized plastic tote with these. They’re not sorted by color yet – I have to decide if I want to mix them with the non-starched scraps that are also pre-cut. That decision can wait anyway, at least until I’m done with this top. I’m already working on designing another scrap project…

But before I get to that point, though, I need to finish 3xS, which is a good way there. The blocks finish at 16″ and aren’t terribly complicated. And since I’ve pre-cut and pre-trimmed the HST units, they go very quickly. I’ve been averaging two or  three blocks a day, though I pushed to get one more done last night. I wanted to have two rows done:

3xS (Scraps, Stars, and Squares) - Two Rows Done

The photo isn’t the best – I had my husband standing on a chair at 1:30 AM this morning. We had every light in the living room blazing. Still, I have a photo! And progress!

In between cooking and hosting tomorrow, I’ll be sewing more of these blocks, with the intention of getting a third row done. I’d also like to squeeze in some time to put together a backing for the Night Sky quilt top. I work nine hours on Sunday at the second job, so I’m not sure I’ll find the time to pin-baste and start quilting.

No matter – I’m still very happy with the progress I have made!





Progress!

17 11 2014

Night Sky Quilt Top

I finished putting the Night Sky quilt top together on Friday evening. By then, due to our shorter days, there was no light to take photos. I had some time before leaving for work today, so I quickly threw the quilt down onto the snow and ran back upstairs to take a photo over the balcony.

My neighbors must think I’m insane.

Granny Square Swap Top Start

In other news, I did manage some progress on the Granny Block top, using the swap blocks I’d received. I still have a lot more blocks to make, but I didn’t feel like digging through my stash last night for aquas, greens and greys. Instead, I dug out of my scrap bucket.

Because the blocks didn’t all trim down to the same size, I’m using the setting triangles to equalize them. The blocks are finishing at 12.5″.

I’m using greys and creams from the scrap bucket, or smaller yardage stash to do the setting – I don’t want to cut into larger pieces for this project until I’ve exhausted my supply of smaller pieces of fabric.

This is also the reason I haven’t yet pieced all of the blocks I need to make up the difference between what I have and what I need. I want to go through the scrap bucket first.

I have a lot of scraps, though.

Because I’ve been lazy, and not cutting them down immediately. Usually, I cut my scraps into 5″, 3″, and 2.5″ squares, and then into strips for quick strip-piecing.

I haven’t done that in a while, so I have a bucket full of pieces that need to be ironed and then cut down, and not just in the required colors. I’m going to buckle down over this evening and next, and focus on that.

And not just for this project. I like to have a scrap project or two going, to use up what I’m generating in scraps.

Yes, that means I started another project.

Another Scrappy Project

I’ve had this EQ7 project for ages, intended to use up the 5″ and 2.5″ squares that I have pre-cut. Since I’m going through my scraps anyway, and starching this batch of scraps (such a difference in how nicely it all cuts down!), I decided I ought to use up some of the solids yardage I have hanging around from deciding to NOT do a Dear Jane.

I bought 20 yards of an ecru colored solid, which I don’t regret. The fabric is a neutral color. I can use it in everything! I just need to use it.

Another Scrap Project

So, it’s become the background solid for blocks like this. Pictured above are actually two halves – I’m attempting to ensure that a fabric is not repeated in the same block. I’m also not letting myself fret too much over the inclusion of creams, and how they kind of disappear into the background fabric. It’s a scrap quilt!

I need to starch and iron a lot more yardage of this solid fabric, so I can start on the alternate blocks, which should use up a lot of what I have sitting around in scraps.





Sewing Like Mad!

15 11 2014

A quilt-along of the Night Sky quilt pattern by Camille Roskelley is being hosted by the lovely Jana Machado. Since I’m still feeling the effects of having my sewing mojo back, I jumped in.

The milestones of this particular quilt along are to have one row of each quilt done each week, with the goal of having the completed top done by December 5. I’ve not gotten any rows done yet, but I have finished all 44 blocks needed for this top.

Night Sky Progress 01

Night Sky Progress 02

Needless to say, I’m damned glad to be done piecing star blocks. These got very repetitive, and I found myself a little tweaked at the waste generated by this pattern if you followed the piecing instructions exactly as written. I also felt that some things should be explicitly called out, as I needed to go back and cut more fabric after I’d gone through the majority of the piecing.

Still, I was able to use up quite a few of my smaller cuts of grey, black and yellow fabrc – everything for this top was pulled from my stash. Really, it was the fact that the pattern called for so many fat quarters (28) that kind of sold me on participating. I had a ton of smaller remnants that would have just gone into my scrap bags, left over from piecing The Garden Party’s Quadrille.

As usual, it feels wonderful to use stuff that I have in my stash – I have enough fabric to make several quilt tops, and I haven’t held as true to my fabric diet this year as I should have. So, ‘wonderful’ really is something of an understatement.

I’ve also made significant progress on Swirling Sea of Stars:

Swirling Sea of Stars Progress

Last time this top was featured on this blog, I only had two rows done. I’m now up to four, though I know I’ve plenty in my scrappy strips tote for a few more projects. There’s going to be at least one more string top in my future. I just have to decide what, though that’s planning for another day. I’m hoping to be able to call this a completed quilt top by the end of the year – it’s very slow going because of the nature of the project.

Strings and paper-piecing take time, lots of it, and I’ve found that I don’t make significant progress if I use this as a leader/end project. Thus, I work on this one as I feel like expending a huge chunk of time on string blocks.

Now, I’m off to sew more. My plans for today include completing the Night Sky quilt top, making a few more string blocks, and making a return to the Winged Square quilt top.





WIP Wednesday – Sewing for Sanity

9 07 2014

It’s shortly after 1:00 AM – I was awakened by a call from my father’s night nurse in the ICU. It is suspected that he is experiencing a bleed unrelated to his surgery yesterday – since being admitted, his blood pressure has been low, and not responding to medication. Tonight, they are doing an emergency CT scan of his abdomen to try to determine where the bleed is occurring.

I have suspected an ulcer – hopefully after tonight, we’ll have an answer.

In the meantime, to distract myself and hopefully quiet my mind enough that I can return to sleep, I will share what I’ve been working on this week. As mentioned in my earlier post of what feels like today yet, but is actually Tuesday… I’ve been sewing myself into a sense of peace, to keep myself from fretting myself into a state over the events of the last couple of weeks, since I had to have my father taken to an emergency room in Milwaukee.

Winged Square - Top in Progress

I completed the twelve pink and green blocks necessary for the Winged Square quilt top. My piles of HSTs are dwindling, slowly. Next up, pink and aqua blocks for the next ring. I haven’t been able to bring myself to start these. Yesterday, there proved to be too much repetition and stringent adherence to pattern for my tired, tired brain.

Completed Top - From an Unquiet Mind I

The need for a change in fabric scenery resulted in pulling out the scraps of solids leftover from my Farmer’s Wife Sampler setting. I made a huge error back when I was cutting the pieces for the setting, and couldn’t bring myself to throw away the too-small pieces.

This proved fortuitous – I was able to open the plastic shoe box of scraps and just start sewing. Over the course of an evening, I had most of a crib-sized quilt top done. Today, I added 5″ (finished) borders. I’ve settled on the fabric that I would like to use for the backing. I just need to determine how to quilt this. I’m still thinking of zigzags – I want the quilting to reflect the often jagged nature of my thoughts over the last few weeks.

Likely, this will be one of the few quilts I seek to sell or otherwise move out of my home. I am not sure that I want to retain these particular quilted memories.

Tomorrow, I will either baste and start quilting this particular top, or I will start another, using the same pool of scraps. I have plenty left, and plenty of reason to seek escapism in stitches. I suspect that the next quilt top to come out of these will be far less structured.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.





From an Unquiet Mind

8 07 2014

Real life has been rough lately.

Super rough.

I’m not sure I have words for it all…

My father’s been in the hospital since Thursday, 26 June.

I had to have him taken there by ambulance, after going to his home in Milwaukee with the intention of moving him to live in my home. He’d finally gotten to a breaking point in living with my brother, and asked for help. Due to his condition when I got to Milwaukee, my help turned out to be getting him health care that he desperately needed. The plan is still to move him in with me, once he’s recovered enough to go into a home living situation.

In the meantime, I’ve been dealing with a lot of grief, guilt, anger, resentment, depression… Mixed in with odd moments of resolve and pulling it together so that I can keep going.

Part of keeping going has been sewing. My mind quiets at the hum of my sewing machine, soothed by the focus on the movement of thread, fabric and needle. I’ve expended a lot of energy and focus on the Winged Square quilt top, but last night the rigidity of the pattern and the strict repetition proved to be more than I could handle.

I pulled out a box of solid scraps, leftover from a (large) cutting mistake when I was doing the setting for my Farmer’s Wife Sampler. The scraps were already cut into triangles, squares and strips, so I just took what I had, and started sewing. Eventually, a sort of pattern emerged and I ended up with five strips, which I then tested against a Kona grey fabric:

From an Unquiet Mind - Testing Strips

They ultimately would not remain in this configuration. I trimmed these multi-colored strips to 4.5″ wide (unfinished) and then spaced them with that grey fabric, cut into 3.5″ (unfinished) strips:

From an Unquiet Mind - Awaiting Borders

It’s not large, a generous crib size at this point. I plan to add 5″ (finished) borders to the piece, and I’m thinking large zig-zags will form the quilting.

I feel a little calmer in having brought some order to the chaos around me, but sense that there will be another quilt top in this same vein shortly. I don’t expect that my calm will last.

Soon, I have to call the hospital and check on Dad – he went into surgery yesterday, after twelve days in the hospital, to have a suspect mass removed. In removing the mass, my father will lose 40% of one lung. The expectation is that the mass will be cancerous, but testing has shown that no cancer has spread into the rest of my father’s body.

It might seem odd, but I see this as a positive. My father is a veteran, who served twenty-one years in the Air Force. He served during an era in which cigarettes were distributed with one’s rations (a practice in the US military which did not end until 1975). Since his retirement, my father has been under the care of military doctors.

It’s a tremendous disservice to the men and women who have served our country, but my experience with the healthcare provided to our veterans seems to prove out that diagnosis and treatment are not actually priorities. Considering the scandals rocking the VA in recent months, my observations seem to hold out at a national level. Nicotine dependency within the military remains high, a result both of the tobacco industry’s influence and reach as well as of the need for coping mechanisms in high-stress positions across the military (combat, peacetime and support roles all included). Due to this, I’m disappointed that screening for cancer within the VA and DoD provided health care isn’t a higher focus. My cynical side declares that diagnosis of cancer leads to expensive treatments, thus the lack of actively seeking it out within such a highly suspect population of patients.

I am immeasurably grateful to the staff of the hospital in which my father is currently sequestered. Not surprisingly, it’s not a VA hospital. It’s a private hospital, with religious roots. Their care for him has been remarkable, and my father’s progress in returning to the man I remember, astounding.

Still, his recovery (while a gift) hasn’t been enough to relieve the negativity eating at me lately. I need to find a few moments each day to center myself, and try to purge the dark that chews at me. I anticipate seeking out a mental health professional when Dad is living with me, and we’ve all found a new normal as a larger family unit.

In the meantime, I seek solace in stitches, creating wholeness where I can.